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HOUSE BILL NO. 598
INTRODUCED BY J. QUILICI, G. BECK, T. FACEY, K. GILLAN, J. HARP, D. HARRINGTON, B. KRENZLER, M. LINDEEN, J. LYNCH, D. MAHLUM, J. MANGAN, W. MCNUTT, R. MENAHAN, D. MOOD, B. PAVLOVICH, B. RYAN, D. SHEA, B. SIMON, P. SLITER, B. TASH
AN ACT PROHIBITING A TELECOMMUNICATIONS CARRIER OR OTHER ENTITY FROM CHARGING OR ATTEMPTING TO CHARGE FOR A PRODUCT OR SERVICE NOT AUTHORIZED OR RECEIVED BY THE CUSTOMER; AUTHORIZING THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO IMPOSE CIVIL PENALTIES FOR UNAUTHORIZED CHANGES IN A CUSTOMER'S TELECOMMUNICATIONS CARRIER OR FOR CHARGES FOR PRODUCTS OR SERVICES NOT AUTHORIZED OR RECEIVED BY A CUSTOMER; AUTHORIZING THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO REVOKE A REPEAT VIOLATOR'S RIGHT TO TRANSACT BUSINESS IN THIS STATE; AND AMENDING SECTIONS 69-3-1301, 69-3-1303, AND 69-3-1305, MCA.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MONTANA:
Section 1. Section 69-3-1301, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-1301. Purpose. The purpose of this part is to prohibit telecommunications carriers, including carriers not otherwise regulated by the commission, from switching a customer's telecommunications services from one telecommunications carrier to another without the customer's consent and to prohibit charges for a product or service not requested by or provided to the customer from being placed on the customer's telephone bill."
Section 2. Section 69-3-1303, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-1303. Prohibition -- exceptions. (1) A telecommunications carrier may not
honor a request by any person other
than a customer to a change the in a customer's primary interexchange carriers carrier or local exchange company except:
(a) when the requesting carrier has obtained from the customer a document signed by the customer that contains clear and conspicuous disclosure of the customer's request for a change in telecommunications carrier;
(b) when the customer affected by the change initiates the contact with the carrier in order to request the change; or
(c) when the carrier who has initiated the change has obtained the customer's verbal authorization as verified by an independent third party or by electronic means in accordance with rules prescribed by the commission.
(2) The documentation required in subsection (1):
(a) must be signed by the customer responsible for paying the charges on the account held by the telecommunications carrier; and
(b) may not be a part of any sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotional program.
(3) A telecommunications carrier or other entity may not initiate charges to be placed on a customer's telecommunications bill unless the service or product has been requested by and provided to the customer. A customer request must be made in the following manner:
(a) by written authorization, in which the telecommunications provider or other entity has obtained a document signed by the customer containing a clear and conspicuous disclosure of the customer's authorization or order of the product or service; or
(b) by verbal authorization, in which the telecommunications carrier or other entity has obtained the customer's verbal authorization as verified by an independent third party or by electronic means in accordance with commission rules.
(4) The documentation provided for in subsections (3)(a) and (3)(b):
(a) must be signed by the customer responsible for paying the charges on the telecommunications bill; and
(b) may not be a part of a sweepstakes, contest, or similar promotional program.
(5) A customer is not liable for any charges submitted for billing on the local exchange company's telephone bill by another carrier or entity for products or services that the customer did not authorize or that were not provided to the customer.
(6) The provisions of subsections (3), (4), and (5) do not apply to a transaction between a customer and that customer's selected providers of local exchange or interexchange service."
Section 3. Section 69-3-1305, MCA, is amended to read:
"69-3-1305. Telecommunications carrier liability -- penalty for violation. (1) A telecommunications carrier who initiates an unauthorized change in the customer's telecommunications carrier in violation of 69-3-1303 is liable:
(a) to the customer for all intrastate long-distance charges, interstate long-distance charges, monthly service charges, carrier switching fees, and other relevant charges incurred by the customer during the period of the unauthorized change; and
(b) to the customer's original telecommunications carrier for all charges related to reinstating service to the customer.
(2) A telecommunications carrier who purposely or knowingly initiates an unauthorized change of a customer's telecommunications carrier under 69-3-1303 or initiates charges to be billed on a customer's telephone bill for services or products not provided to or authorized by the customer is guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished as provided in 46-18-212.
(3) (a) If, after a hearing held pursuant to the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, the commission finds that a person has initiated an unauthorized change of a customer's telecommunications carrier or has initiated charges to be billed on a customer's telephone bill for services or products not provided or authorized, the commission may impose for each change or charge made in violation of 69-3-1303, a civil fine not to exceed $1,000 for each violation, which must be deposited in the general fund.
(b) If, after a hearing held pursuant to the Montana Administrative Procedure Act, the commission finds that a person has, with a frequency to indicate a general business practice, initiated unauthorized changes of customers' telecommunications carriers or initiated charges to be billed on a customer's telephone bill for services or products not provided or authorized, the commission may notify the secretary of state and the secretary of state shall suspend or revoke any license, registration, or other filing entitling that person to transact business in this state.
(3)(4) The remedies provided by this section are in addition to any other remedies, including injunctive relief, available
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Latest Version of HB 598 (HB0598.ENR)
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